Freshly Review: Tasty Food for Lazy People
Like other meal subscription services, Freshly prides itself on providing healthy, tasty food right to your door. What sets it apart is convenience—all Freshly meals arrive completely prepared and ready to heat and eat. As someone who loves to be lazy but hates eating convenience food, this seemed like something right up my alley.
To test the waters, I split a Freshly box with an editor from our sibling site, Earn Spend Live. We each got one breakfast option and two lunch/dinner meals, and I highly suggest reading her review once you’re finished with mine.
Delivery & Packaging
The six-meal box we received was quite large, but that was mostly due to the insulation and cooling pack for the food. And honestly, I’ll take bulk over botulism any day. All Freshly packaging is recyclable, though, which means you’re free to save the world by tossing it into one of those funny looking trash cans.
The packaging for the individual meals was very much in line with other microwavable foods, so no surprises there. The Freshly aesthetic is a bit more upscale than what you might find in a grocery store, but it’s nothing to write home about.
My one packaging complaint has to do with the sealed plastic covering for each meal—you’re not getting the sucker off without a struggle. The fight to remove it is only complicated by the fact that you’re trying to avoid spilling hot food all over yourself. The plastic doesn’t peel off evenly (when it peels off at all), and eventually, I resigned myself to eating these meals still partially covered.
Freshly emphasizes the healthy nature of their meal options. While I’m not exactly a paragon of good health (I AM A BEAUTIFUL WORK IN PROGRESS THANK YOU VERY MUCH), I think their nutritious approach is at least worth mentioning.
All the meals I tried fell within the 350 to 550 calorie range, which means they could work well within a weight loss regimen—assuming you don't each six meals in one sitting. Plus, they contain no added sugar or artificial sweeteners (if you’re afraid of science). For celiac-minded folks, everything from Freshly is gluten free. For everyone else, you’ll never be able to tell.
So I had absolutely no idea what arrabbiata sauce was when I opened this bad boy up, and I was only vaguely familiar with the concept of a frittata. Regardless, I’ve never let ignorance come between me and food, so I soldiered on for the sake of my taste buds.
I was a bit hesitant when I saw the meal, because I immediately remembered, “Oh yeah, ‘frittata’ is an egg something,” and on paper, pre-cooked and refrigerated eggs don’t sound like a terribly great idea. However, in practice they turned out just fine, and I’m honestly not sure I could distinguish them from freshly cooked ones.
If you’re a vegetable fan, the kale and tomatoes in the frittata won’t disappoint—their flavors coalesced nicely with everything else. But if you’re not so keen on them, just suck it up and close your eyes when you eat. Chances are, you won’t be able to pinpoint their individual tastes in the mix anyways.
Arrabbiata sauce, for those who aren’t living in a Tuscan villa, is basically just a spicy tomato sauce. This particular one was a bit light on the spice, though. It had a nice initial kick that dissipated pretty quickly, which was perfectly fine with me. If you want something more melt-your-face-off, you’ll probably have to look elsewhere.
The mozzarella slice was fine but not mind-blowing. It very much tasted like it was part of a microwave meal, but all cheese is precious is my sight, so that didn’t really deter from the experience.
Three Bean Ancho Turkey Chili
As I was eating this particular meal, I struggled to figure out what I wanted to say about it. Plainly speaking, it is perfectly acceptable, middle-of-the-road chili. It was by no means terrible, but it wasn’t all too exceptional either.
If you’re a chili snob (author’s note: reconsider your life if you are), this is probably not the dish for you. For everyone else, it’s a simple bowl of okay chili. And lots of times, that’s enough.
Jamaican-Style Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa and Cauliflower “Rice”
There are not enough quotation marks in the world to put around the “rice” in this dish. For those that know me, my hatred of cauliflower is no secret. And unfortunately, this dish didn’t open my eyes to its alleged greatness.
That being said, I did end up eating about half of what was provided, which is a huge improvement over my average no bites of cauliflower. The nice, smoky flavor is what kept me coming back for more. For those with less cruciferous prejudice than me, this would probably make a great, tasty side dish.
The real winner for this meal was obviously the chicken. While it had a great flavor, it probably could have been even jerkier without any complaints from me. The meat itself was cooked nicely and didn’t taste at all rubbery, like you get with some varieties of pre-cooked chicken. The mango salsa was a nice accent flavor, but like I said, the real star of the show was the jerk seasoning on the chicken.
Taste-wise, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Freshly, especially considering its microwavable status. But are they worth it from a money standpoint?
Well, that depends.
Freshly offers weekly plans with different meal quantities, and the more you buy, the cheaper it becomes per meal. Their 21-meal offering is cheapest, at $10.90 per meal ($229 per week), but our six-meal option was a bit pricier, at $11.50 per meal ($99 per week). Depending on your location and income, this range can be a perfectly reasonable amount to pay for a meal. Freshly definitely isn’t for the frugal food connoisseur, though.
I could definitely see myself using Freshly on a regular basis, properly contextualized. We’ve discussed the depressing nature of microwave food on EBS before, and from a psychological standpoint, there’s no way I could bring myself to eat these every night. It’s just too sad to come home to a refrigerator full of pre-cooked meals.
However, they would definitely be welcome as a work lunch any day. They tasted great, fit within my price range, and were quick and easy to prepare. Because let’s be honest, there’s no way these meals would get made if I were completely in charge buying and preparing the ingredients. Freshly is definitely the right choice for the lazy eater.